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Hudson & Fournier: Catholic Countdown to Election 2012, Day 14. Two Weeks Away - What Catholics Can Do!

By Deal W Hudson and Keith A Fournier
October 23rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

No Catholic who cares about the outcome of this election should forget the bottom line:  The outcome will not be determined by the importance of our cause -- it will be determined by who gets out the vote.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - We are receiving reports everyday that it's hand-to-hand combat out there. Catholics who defend life, marriage, and religious liberty are encountering one obstacle after another in their efforts to educate fellow Catholics about the importance of Nov. 6. 

Case in point: Some dioceses are insisting that the only voter guides that can be distributed on parish property are the alphabetical issues guides that we discussed last week.  This is the issues guide that expressly ignores the instructions issued by the bishops in the "New Introduction to Faithful Citizenship". 

As a result, voter guides by independent groups that follow the instructions of the bishops -- not to treat the issues "quantitatively" but distinguish between settled and prudential issues -- are being, to put it nicely, discouraged.

The more we think about state Catholic conferences choosing the alphabet over the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the ordering principle of their voter guides, the more we shake our heads.

One thing Catholics can do is to distribute voter guides such as this one to fellow Catholics.  No one in the Church has the authority to tell a lay Catholic what voter guide he or she can distribute on their own. 

Other reports are coming in that clergy who spoke from the pulpit about the issue of religious liberty or the misrepresentation of Vice President Joe Biden in the debate are being hounded by Obama/Biden supporters. They are being accused of everything from partisanship to -- gasp! -- turning their backs on the poor. 

It's our observation that clergy and laity who put prudential issues like health care ahead of the settled issues feel no timidity in putting their arguments in front of parishioners.

Another thing Catholics can do is tell their clergy and bishops that if they decide to speak out, to tell the truth the Church possesses, that we will support them. We know from experience that too often a priest or a bishop will go out on a limb for the pro-life or pro-marriage cause, only to find that no one is waiting to catch him when the bough breaks. 

The good news we are hearing is that Catholics are fiercely determined to make sure the Nov. 6 referendum on religious liberty in the United States does not become its death knell. If the HHS mandate and its egregious violation of the religious liberty of all Catholics becomes of no consequence, then we should all, both laity and clergy, hang our heads in shame. And in the future, laughter will echo through the halls of Congress and the West Wing of the White House if the Catholic bishops issue a press release taking issue with its policies. 

In the last two weeks before election day, there is no issue that has the power to persuade the undecided Catholic voter more than the issue of religious liberty. Catholic activists should make sure the message to fellow Catholics is clear: If the unprecedented imposition on the Catholic Church is not answered on election day, the Church can expect future, and more serious, attacks. The bishops themselves have made clear the importance of resisting the HHS mandate by their Fortnight for Freedom

But no Catholic who cares about the outcome of this election should forget the bottom line:  The outcome will not be determined by the importance of our cause -- it will be determined by who gets out the vote. What Catholics can do in the last two weeks before Nov. 6 is to make sure everyone they know casts their vote. They should take advantage of the early voting opportunities in 34 of our 50 states.

A final word to those Catholics who are growing frustrated with the obstacles they are meeting in trying to educate and motivate fellow Catholics. Political campaigns are by their very nature human struggles, tumultuous and passionate. When the people of faith involve themselves in politics, politics doesn't change. What Catholics can do is accept, even expect, the human imperfections that political struggle inevitably reveals -- and then fight for the next fourteen days!

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